Second seed Serena Williams took on Belinda Bencic in what was set out to be a blockbuster first-round match. The last time the pair met, Bencic upset the American in a sensational victory and would be looking to tap on that performance to cause yet another upset. Williams, on her hunt for her 23rd Grand Slam, would want to forget that match and get off to a good start.
In a tight first set, Williams grew in strength as the match wore on and broke late on to clinch the first set. The second seed showed her power and dominated the most of the second set. Bencic did offer some late fight towards the end but it was not enough as Williams wrapped up a 6-4, 6-3 victory to advance to the second round.
Williams grabs a tight first set
Both started the match with comfortable holds of serve. Williams then sprayed her forehand wide when she had the whole court handing a couple of early break points to the Swiss in the third game. Bencic, however, misfired her returns allowing Williams to hold her serve to go 2-1 up. Having missed her chances, Bencic faced a break point of her own after sending her forehand wide. The American though kept the pressure hitting winners and on her third opportunity capitalized to take a 3-1 lead.
However, Williams could not hold on to her serve with some powerful hitting from the Swiss saw Bencic break back with a scorching return for 2-3. The Swiss held her serve to level it 3-3 and the match progressed on serves. Serving to stay in the set, Williams though stepped it up a notch punishing Bencic’s second serves in the tenth game to carve out double set points. The Swiss caved in as the American grabbed the first set 6-4.
Williams wobbles at the end but gets the job done
Williams picked up where she left off finding her range and earning an early break to race to a 3-0 lead. The Swiss was in all kind of trouble and was once again forced to save break points. She saved the first of those before an unlucky net cord gave Williams yet another break point. The second seed converted it and got the double break cushion for 4-0.
The American was finding her best tennis and consolidated the break with an impressive love hold game to further extend her lead for 5-0. Bencic was in all sorts of trouble serving to stay in the match. The Swiss went toe to toe with the American in a rally and came out tops before finding the edge to eventually hold serve and get on board in the second set.
Bencic though was not going down without a fight and that service hold seemed to give her new life. Serving for the match, Williams uncharacteristically sent a double fault and the Swiss pounced on her chance to get one of the breaks back for 2-5. Bencic followed it up with one of her best games yet easing through with a love hold to force Williams to serve it out again. The American did not look steady as she did all through the match and hit a double fault on match point. However, on her second match point, Williams finally sealed the match as Bencic’s shot found the net.